Shallow Hal
**.9 BM
Starring: Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jason Alexander, Joe Vitterelli, Tony Robbins, Kyle Gass, Laura Kightlinger


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I really wanted to like this movie. It features Tenacious D, the greatest band on Earth, and it STARS Jack Black, one of the funniest people I've ever seen. The main point of contention was that it just looked like they were going to plug Jables into a movie that was little more than a bunch of fat jokes and try to make him do something with it. It turns out to be a bit more than that, but nevertheless it delivers on its underwhelming promise.

The gimmick is that Hal (JB) is shallow due to some delirious advice from his father on his deathbed, but then Tony Robbins busts out the ancient mind control and makes Hal see inner beauty as outer beauty, and thus, when he meets a kind and gentle Peace Corps volunteer that's several hundred pounds, he sees her as Gwyneth Paltrow, who is maybe seventy pounds tops. Everything's fine until Mauricio (Jason Alexander), Hal's pal and fellow shallow bastard, figures out how to bust through the ancient mind control and fucks shit up for the people that's in the streets.

It's a cute little idea, and with Jack Black goin' for it, it could have been pretty good. The results, however, are less than impressive, and it doesn't really bring a good punch. I'm not sure what the big deal is with the Farrelly brothers. I wasn't busting guts at "There's Something About Mary" that much (although admittedly I saw it after the hype hit and thus was expecting most of the gags) and "Me Myself and Irene" could have used some work, so overall, I'm not that thrilled by them in the first place.

It wasn't a bad movie at all, and there were a handful of funny moments, but it's a pretty predictable little morality tale with a couple of weird things thrown in to make it all Farrelly. JB is pretty good in his first romantic lead role, although part of the comedy is just watching him play a high-powered executive type, when I know he's actually a ROCK GOD. Jason Alexander's got some fun moments as the weasel jerk, as most guys who play jerks do, and Paltrow is appropriately sweet and low-key, if a little bland, as Rosemary, the gal with a heart of gold.

I'm hard pressed to isolate the problem here, other than that it felt as though Jables had to be far too restrained for my liking, although I can't really fault a film for making him play a role rather than play his hilarious self. I was also glad to see Kyle Gass and Laura Kightlinger in the film as well, since they're both cool. It did seem to rely a bit too much on the whole "being attracted to ugly people is funny" premise despite it's apparent intentions to mildly reprimand people for thinking that way, but I think it was just an overall lack of panache or energy in the film that made it feel a bit limp. It's completely incongruous for Jack Black to star in a film that's not really vitalized, since he's a font of spastic energy, which I suppose is why it was even more disappointing. Perhaps I was hoping for too much. I guess I'll just have to wait for the Tenacious D movie.

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